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Does Your Baby Need Vitamin Supplements?

Does Your Baby Need Vitamin Supplements?

Whether or not your baby needs supplements depends largely on breastfeeding. Healthy infants who are breastfeeding will get the nutrients they need from breast milk. In fact, giving a vitamin supplement to a breastfed newborn could even be harmful. In most cases of breastfed babies, a deficiency in nutrients or minerals is corrected in the mother rather than the baby.

If you aren't breastfeeding your baby, he or she might need a vitamin supplement for adequate nutrition. Also, if your baby was born very prematurely, he or she might need to have certain vitamins added to breast milk to help growth and development.

Vitamin B12 is often missing in strict vegan mothers, since it is largely found in animal products. Occasionally, a medical reason will cause a B12 vitamin deficiency in the mother. Most often, the mother is advised to take a supplement with added B12, which will be present in her breast milk. If the mother isn't breastfeeding, then a baby supplement with B12 is necessary. Iron and zinc can also be lacking in children of vegan or vegetarian mothers, and a supplement can help.

Vitamin D is essential for babies, and is produced naturally in the body. However, since babies get very little sunlight, a Vitamin D supplement can be a good idea. Without the required amount they can develop a condition called rickets. Infants who live in a climate with little or no sun exposure, or have darker skin that needs more sunlight to take in Vitamin D are especially at risk. Babies up to one year should have no more than 1,000 IU per day, and once a baby is drinking milk a Vitamin D supplement is no longer needed.

Some babies have food allergies that limit the intake of certain vitamins. Infants who are allergic to orange juice can have two to three drops of Vitamin C per day, which will give them the necessary amount for healthy functioning. Parents with an especially finicky baby who dislikes most solid foods should consider talking to a pediatrician about supplements.

It's unusual that a baby will need a fluoride supplement, but for parents living in areas where there is inadequate fluoride in the water supply, or who drink only bottled water, need to consult a doctor to determine if infant supplements are the right choice.

Never give your child any vitamin supplement without talking to your child's pediatrician. The doctor can help you decide if a supplement is in your baby's best interest, or if your infant is already getting all the nutrition he or she needs in the first months of life.


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